The Canonical List of Banjo Jokes
(No Banjo Pickin' Allowed Around Here)In September 1991 Darrell Reich caused severe injury to many of the readers of rec.folk-dancing as a result of excessive laughter when he posted this Canonical List of Banjo Jokes. He may have collected more by now, but I haven't seen sign of them recently. Of course, many of these are borrowed from orchestras who tell the same jokes about viola players! I've converted it to HTML and reformatted it.
Before proceeding I would like to add a few words of caution. Banjo jokes are jokes about banjo players, their music, their instrument, environmentalism, animal rights, human sacrifice, and interplanetary grave robbing. These jokes has never been told in their entirety because they are dangerously funny: no one has ever lived to retell them in their entirety. We had to taken great precautions to safeguard our health while compiling this list: each operative was responsible for a manageably sized module of the jokes (one not to large as to overcome the individual with so much mirth that would cause him/her to die laughing.) As I typed these jokes, I was blindfolded: part of the jokes were related in various, and obscure languages and dialects, other parts written, and still other parts transmitted in braille or Morse code.
Therefore, I caution you to do the following:
Is your will in order and your life insurance paid up? Is it really worth the risks?
This is you last chance!! I mean it! Stop now before it's too late!
God help you and may the force be with you...
Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locals or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Dedicated to the time and place that is the unique lifestyle of the banjo player of the '90s in Southern California and the excitement and freedom that it brings us--it's cheaper than therapy.
"Sure do," replied the bartender.
"Good," said the man. "Give me a beer, and I'll have a banjo picker for my 'gator."
A banjo player walked into a bar...another banjo player walked into the bar...you'd think the second banjo player would have seen what happened to the first banjo player and ducked! [under the bar.]
I recently had surgery on my hand, and asked the doctor if, after surgery, I would be able to play the banjo. He said, "I'm doing surgery on your hand, not giving you a lobotomy."
The Pope and a banjo player find themselves together before the Pearly Gates. After a small quantum of time which was spent discussing their respective professions, ol' Saint Peter shows up to usher them to their new Heavenly station. After passing out wings, harps, halos, and such, St. Pete decides to show them to their new lodgings. Only a brief flight from the welcome, Pete brings them down on the front lawn (cloud-encrusted, natch) of a huge palatial estate with all sorts of lavish trappings. This, Pete announces, is where the banjo player will be spending eternity, (at least until the end of time...) "Hot Dang," the Pope says to His-self, "If he's getting a place like this, I can hardly wait to see my digs!" They take flight once again, and as Pete leads on, the landscape below begins to appear more and more mundane until they finally land on a street lined with Brownstone houses. Pete indicates the third walkup on the left as the Pope's new domicile and turns to leave, wishing the pontiff his best. The Pope, in a mild state of astonishment, cries out "Hey Pete! What's the deal here? You put that banjo player-feller in a beautiful estate and I, spiritual leader of terra-firma, end up with this dive? Pete looks at the pontiff amusedly and replies: "Look here old fellow, this street is practically encrusted with spiritual leaders from many times and religions. We're putting you here with them so you guys can get your dogma together. That other guy gets an estate, because he's the first (non-)damned banjo player to make it up here!!"
Saint Peter, wanting the new arrivals to feel at home, promised to spend some quality time with each one. He asked his first arrival of the day, "Hi! What's your IQ?" "150," he said. "Great," said Peter, as he showed the man in, "we should get together tomorrow and discuss the theory of relativity for a while." He asked the next person, "What's your IQ?" "120," she said. "Fine, fine," said Peter, "I'd love to take some time with you Wednesday to discuss current world politics." To the third person, he asked, "What's your IQ?" "42," drawled the fellow. "Fantastic!" cried Peter, "I've been looking for years for somebody who could help me perform a banjo duet!"
A banjo player goes to his class reunion and meets up with the smartest kid in his class, "Hi, how are you doing? What have you been up to?" he says. "I'm doing experimental brain research at the Salk Institute," replies the smart kid. Then, our hero sees another classmate of his, who never was very smart. He walks over to him and says, "Elroy! How are you doing? I've been meaning to ask you, what type of picks do you use? Heard any good banjo jokes lately..."
An old man was on his death bed and called his whole family together so that he could bid them farewell and make his peace with the world. After he said what he wanted to each in turn and he knew he was coming very close to death he called for all to gather together. "I have one thing I would like to confess before I go," he said. They all drew closer. "It was me," cough, wheeze, "I was the one," he said as they leaned down as close as they could to hear what he could barely get out in a whisper. Gasp, cough, "I was the one," cough, wheeze, "in the kitchen with Dinah..."
For three years, the young banjo player had been taking his brief vacations at this country inn. The last time he'd finally managed an affair with the innkeeper's daughter. Looking forward to an exciting few days, he dragged his suitcase up the stairs of the inn, then stopped short. There sat his lover with an infant on her lap! "Helen, why didn't you write when you learned you were pregnant?" he cried. "I would have rushed up here, we could have gotten married, and the baby would have my name!" "Well," she said, "when my folks found out about my condition, we sat up all night talkin' and talkin' and decided it would be better to have a bastard in the family than a banjo player."
Banjo players spend half their lives tuning and the other half playing out of tune.
Banjo pickers: we tune because we care...
I bought mine tuned.
Banjo players play requests by multiple choice not fill in the blank.
"You can pick your banjo and you can pick your nose but you can't wipe your banjo on your pants."
"Anyone can play one of them things--all you need is three fingers and a plastic head"
The sixth fret on a banjo is a lot like the thirteenth floor on a building--you don't really need one.
Banjo players are a lot like sharks--they think they have to keep playing or they'll sink...
"Banjos are to music as Spam is to food..."
"He can't hear you, he's playing his banjo--his brain is disconnected..."
Play Bluegrass Lite! One third Fewer Notes! Less Picking! Sounds Great!
Second verse same as the first
The banjo is such a happy instrument--you can't play a sad song on the banjo it always comes out so cheerful...
If you practice, tune, make a sound check, and sit down to play it's folk music otherwise it's bluegrass.
Some people call it Cripple Creek--but they're wrong!
I used to play on TV but my mom said get off or I'd break it!
After you've played the banjo long enough people will pay you to play; however, your neighbours will pay you to stop.
You can either laugh a little faster or I can tell the jokes a little slower...
"The only thing worse than telling banjo jokes is laughing at them!"
Them Banjo Pickers by Mason WilliamsHow bout them banjo pickers ain't they fine
Same damn song for three or four times
Them banjo pickers all they know
Them banjo pickers talking bout strings
Them banjo pickers them poker faced mugs
You want to be a banjo picker you don't need a ticket
stealth banjo player: doesn't have a clue as to how the song goes--tries to hide behind other musicians.
symbolic bass: got volunteered to play bass in the band but doesn't want to break a fingernail.
zombiegrass: picture a banjo picker standing straight faced under a large cowboy hat.
Then one night it happened, I was invited to a jam at a friend's house so I grabbed my banjo and a strawberry pie, called another banjo player and invited him to join us and was off. Well, there were so many banjo players at the jam that night that one of the bass players started with the banjo jokes (some of which sound a lot like recycled lawyer jokes.)
I tried to forget them and failed so I started writing them down but my attempts to regain my sanity were in vain. At least with this I can practice getting the jokes right or just call them off by number. My quest for the perfect banjo joke had begun. The consequences of this have far out reached any expectations I could have had at the time.
At every bluegrass club meeting, Julian, and New Expression banjo workshop since I have eagerly interrogated the other banjo players and bluegrassers for new jokes. I asked the band at the pizza parlour before they went on and they started telling jokes in between songs. By then I knew all the answers and my name was becoming synonymous with banjo jokes!
I posted my jokes to the folk music and humour news groups of the Usenet electronic computer network which is sent around the world via the National Science Foundation Internet computer network and got a reply from banjo pickers from as far away as England and Scotland. These jokes go out to the members of the Slow-Jam and end up in the North County Bluegrass & Folk Music Club newsletter which goes out and ends up...this is great I get people mailing me banjo jokes from all over the place.
I sent a copy of my joke collection to the Bluegrass Special and the DJ read some on the air for anyone who was awake on Sunday night at 11:24 pm. It was finals week and it really made my day to hear my name on the radio. People have started to recognise me at bluegrass jams around town as "the guy with all the dumb banjo jokes."
#1. Down in the bluegrass crossword puzzle in the June 1991 issue
of the San Diego Bluegrass Club newsletter says "Darrell Reich always has
a new one. (two words)" [nine letters.]
I usually start jamming with the joke of the week to warm up. One of the nicest compliments I've gotten is when someone told me, "Hey Darrell, I thought you just carried that thing [my banjo] around and told jokes all day but you're actually pretty good!" [at playing the banjo not telling jokes.] I had just told all my jokes and then jumped in with Whiskey Before Breakfast, the song I picked to play at Julian this year.
The critics [non-banjo players] say, "you would have to be a banjo player to enjoy these jokes--I'm sure you and the boys are still laughing..." and it's true fer sure!
So, this is it, my 101 banjo jokes, The Canonical List, numbered and illustrated complete with preface, disclaimer, dedication, glossary, epilogue, and appendices, perfect to just stuff in your case so you'll never be without a comment on stage or at a jam. Even by yourself--you'll always have a reason to smile. Enjoy. Keep those cards and letters coming! I've got one more year of college before I've got to go and get a real job [the banjo player for Apple Computers Inc.?!?] If I had to do it all over again, I'd make the same mistake....
Lesson 1: Beat It!The most common mistake of the beginning banjo player is to play too gently. True, musical instruments require great care and special handling, but banjos should not be confused with these. There are three basic licks that are used in playing the banjo: the hit (abbreviated h in tablature), the harder hit (H), and the beat (B). Learn these three licks, and soon you'll be able to play anything! Remember -- Hit 'em again, hit 'em again, harder, harder!
Lesson 2: Stage PresenceA dignified stage presence will do more than anything else to create the impression that you are a serious, professional musician. This is to be avoided at all costs--you have a reputation to maintain, after all! While playing on stage, you should:
Lesson 3: Tuning your banjoMusicians make a very big deal about "getting in tune." Fortunately, you're a banjo player, and therefore need not be so hung up. There are three basic ways to tune a banjo:
Lesson 4: Tunes and TablatureIt's a well-kept secret that there are really only four tunes in old-time music: the G Tune, the A Tune, the D Tune, and the C Tune. It's an even better-kept secret that these four tunes sound exactly the same. Tablature is a simplified form of musical notation used by musicians to preserve music on paper. Avoid all tablature--you will get nowhere as a banjo player by imitating musicians.
Lesson 5: Drugs, FastFret(tm), pizza, strawberry pie, & Banjo PlayingJust say, "Why not?"
Lesson 6: Playing with MusiciansPlaying with musicians is always scary for the beginning banjo player. You should not be intimidated, though, because musicians like to have a banjo player or two around. Even the most mediocre group of musicians will sound great by contrast when a banjo player is added. So get in there and start jamming!
Lesson 7: Banjo ParaphernaliaA capo allows the banjo player, once out of tune in one key, to quickly be out of tune in any other key.
A case protects your banjo from abuse, except when it is being played. This is really unimportant, but where else can you put all your cool bumper stickers?
A dog will follow a banjo player around and keep everyone uncertain as to which is responsible for the odour.
Beer is the experienced banjo player's favourite liquid to spill on the dance floor, dancers, and/or musicians. Sometimes it is filtered through the kidneys first.
Lesson 8: Name That TuneAs mentioned previously, there are only four tunes, and they all sound the same. It is definitely uncool, however, to let on in public that you know this, so here's a list of titles for The Tune: Turkey in the Straw, Bug in the Taters, Paddy on the Turnpike, Fire on the Mountain, Billy in the Lowground, Drugs in the Urine Sample, Christ on a Crutch, Monkey in the Dog Cart, Logs in the Bedpan, Ducks in the Millpond, Pigeon on a Gate Post, Water on the Knee.
Lesson 9: Three Myths Dispelled
Lesson 10: The Universal Banjo Tune
----H----B---h---B----------H-------B---B-H-------- --h---H--B---------B--------H---H---B-H-B---H------ ---------B-----h-----B------H-B---------B-----H---- -----------h-----------h----------h---------------- ------------------------------------------------B-- h=hit it! H=hit it harder! B=beat it!This article was reprinted from the February 1990 issue of The Daily Clog, Julie Mangin, editor.
The next comedian walked on stage and said, "Number 1265." A round of laughter gripped the audience. Some of the people around the reporter even fell out of their chairs.
Another one came out and said, "Number 876." The chuckling lasted for minutes. The confused reporter turned to the person seated next to her and asked, "I don't get it. Why are they just saying numbers?" The guy replied, "Well, we know all the jokes by numbers, so all the competitors have to do is give the number."
The next comedian came out and said, "Number 834." Silence. Not even a guffaw... The reporter asked, "What happened?" "Some people just don't know how to tell a joke."
The next comedian came out and said, "Number 1254." The audience erupted with raucous laughter. More hysterics than any of the previous comedians. The reporter asked, "What happened?" "That was a joke we had never heard before."
From The Far Side Cartoons:
Devil: Here's your room Maestro...
Doctor, doctor, I've come all the way from Alabama with this thing stuck on my knee...
The New Slow-Jam Logo a turtle playing the banjo wearing sunglasses.
"Frets ain't nothing but speed bumps on a banjo..."
A gentleman is someone who can play the banjo, but doesn't.
This page last modified Tue Apr 9 1996 10:35:52 Rhod Davies